Ardentryst is a sidescrolling platformer with RPG elements, programmed primarily by Jordan Trudgett from 2007 to 2009 with some assistance from his friends. In it you play either Nyx, a young female mage, or Pyralis, a male fighter.
The story is that an evil wizard turned all of the other wizards in the kingdom to stone, and then opened portals in several places that allowed monsters to enter the kingdom. Nyx is the 13 year old daughter of the queen, while Pyralis is apparently just some 12 year old whose main attribute is strength. You have 3 primary attributes – strength, endurance, and magic (each character has the same total). Once you’ve chosen, you must allot 12 more points among the 3, plus a 4th – luck. Points affect your statistics in different ways: for Nyx, 1 point will increase Health or Mana 5 points, but only increase Strength and Luck 1 point. Next you choose a starting weapon of varying range and magical enhancememt. Each character has 3 choices (and the weapons and armor you equip do show on your character as you play the game).
Ardentryst’s world is a medium-sized island of 6 areas, with another area off shore. Each character has an unlimited inventory, a set of equipment, some fighting abilities, and spells. A quest log (mostly of monster kill totals) comprises achievements.
Even though the game is about 3 years old, there aren’t many videos showing it off. The game is complete, but only has 2 areas. Each area you enter has about 10 stages plus a final boss. The forest area, Sempridge, where you start, has 4 enemies to fight: wasps, spiders (from above), plants, and snails. The snails are the only enemy that actually will come at you, the others stay in place and you just have to kill them to get through and leave the level. There are also treasure chests to supplement the loot enemies drop.
There is an NPC in the first level who offers a one-time quest: he wants 20 loot drops from certain monsters. This is a good way to obtain extra experience and a few items you would otherwise have to buy.
The second area has a snow theme. You can see your character’s breath, and unless you buy certain boots in the shop, you slide further on the ledges. During each stage, the game shows (via a halo) whether you’ve been hit by any monster. If you can beat a stage without getting hit once, you get double the completion percentage.
Whenever you level up, you get points in most of your attributes. Pyralis also gets some fighting moves, and both characters get various magical spells at certain levels. I don’t think there’s a fixed level limit, since I have seen uploaded characters as high as 200 (unless that is the limit).
When I played the game last year, I found the final boss of the forest level to be fairly hard, although beatable. It is much easier if you have bought an upgrade for whatever weapon you use. The regular enemies should not be a problem for anyone, unless you get careless and let them hit you (and thus lose your halo). The real challenge in the game is jumping. Whenever you land, you slide just a bit, and many stages feature very short ledges you have to land on. Missing one results in instant death – but the only penalty is that you start the stage over again. You lose no experience or gold by dying. (Grinding through previous levels is necessary to get the gold you’ll need for your equipment upgrades and items like mana or health potions.)
All in all, this game is very good, although much too short. Magic isn’t just to damage enemies, it can push away the more annoying ones who otherwise are just inside your weapon reach, so you don’t keep taking damage. Shops offer items that not only are upgrades, but will alleviate some difficulties – for instance, near the end of the second (snowy) area, I checked the shop before going to the final boss. The shopkeeper offered “grip boots” for a reasonable price, that would have made my progress through earlier stages SO much easier!
Ardentryst is available in the repositories for Debian, Ubuntu, and Linux Mint. You can also install a Windows binary, get an openSUSE version, or download the source. Overall, it’s a fairly enjoyable game with good art. Most of the “difficult” aspects can be alleviated by either using certain spells or buying better equipment. You can also upload your final score to the main website if you wish. The options menu indicates that there ought to be sound effects, but I couldn’t hear any. You can also set your control keys up differently, which by default are the ones under your left hand. I definitely wish there were 2 or 3 more areas in the game – I wanted more of this fun!
The original web page is found here and includes a forum and player scoreboard, but apparently Jordan has decided to return to the game and is working on a sequel. He has a brand new blog and a new games page. In the last few years, he’s created another game as well.